Sunday, December 11, 2005

Bonus Australia photos

Time for some more bonus photos of my recent journey - I have plenty to force on you, as you can imagine. These five are from my first few months in Sydney. It's one of those cities where everyone you know who's been there has liked it. Very few people have bad things to say about the Harbour City...

Australia revels in the reputation of deadly animals lurking around every corner - especially to us paranoid Brits who usually deal with nothing more dangerous than cows and squirrels. These wonderful looking things are Stingers - small, brilliant blue jellyfish. After stormy weather you see them littering the strandlines on Sydney's beaches (I took this photo on a rainy day at Bondi). A relative of the feared Portuguese Man-o'-War, they give a nasty burning sting - but aren't really that dangerous. The surfers were still out, albeit with wetsuits to protect them.

I took this at the Museum of Australia in central Sydney. The more I look at it, the more I love the contented expression on the face of this frog. Presumably he's just settling down to a mid-afternoon snooze after an insect-based lunch and a morning of sitting on a branch dozing. Although it was in captivity, I can't honestly say this frog was stressed in any way. I like the way he's resting on his arms, tucked under his chin.

That really was the only cloud in the sky - drifting slowly across the distant buildings of the Sydney CBD. I was standing on the small beachfront road at Watson's Bay, an exclusive suburb in Sydney's East (and one of many). I've been there so many times, that I can look at this picture and conjure up an image of exactly what it was like - even now, sitting here at my computer on a grey Edinburgh afternoon. That surely is the very best thing about travelling.

One of the most touristy things you can do in Sydney is the Bridge Climb. This is a photo of climbers just starting out on the lower section of the bridge above Cumberland Street in the Rocks. You pay $180 to pull on a grey boiler-suit and shuffle up the steps to the top. I really wouldn't recommend it - you are strung together like a chain gang, can't take any photos, and have all kinds of 'lectures' and safety demos beforehand. The whole thing takes about 4hrs. Just above these people is the excellent South Pylon viewpoint - where you can climb up one of the stone supporting pillars of the bridge (that don't actually support the bridge at all), look at a small museum, and the view, for $7. That's my top tip...

Fireworks are notoriously difficult to photograph, unless you've got a top of the range camera, tripod, and a lot of patience. It helps if you're not stood in the middle of the road in a huge crowd of people too - but it was New Year's Eve and the only place to be was within sight of the Harbour Bridge for the display. It was pretty spectacular - not that you can tell from this picture - the bridge was lit up by all kinds of twinkling explosions. It's hard to get an idea of the sheer scale here - those 'shooty' ones firing upwards are going hundreds of feet into the night sky. Unfortunately the lack of wind meant the smoke hung around and obscured most of the better effects, but it was definately worth seeing.